Putting the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) into the perspective of materials chemistry and materials science and engineering is a tall order. Modern materials research and development involves most of the elements from the periodic table. This diversity is evident in perusing the papers in this Materials IYPT Virtual Special Issue (VSI), which […]

Putting the International Year of the Periodic Table (IYPT) into the perspective of materials chemistry and materials science and engineering is a tall order. Modern materials research and development involves most of the elements from the periodic table. This diversity is evident in perusing the papers in this Materials IYPT Virtual Special Issue (VSI), which includes articles from 13 ACS journals: ACS Applied Bio Materials, ACS Applied Energy Materials, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, ACS Applied Nano Materials, ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, ACS Macro Letters, ACS Nano, Biomacromolecules, Chemistry of Materials, Crystal Growth & Design, Langmuir, Macromolecules, and Nano Letters.

As such, let’s focus on areas of materials science that have seen significant activity during the past several decades and highlight some of the elements that are key to this work.

The first area that comes to mind is the field of next-generation solar cells. Since the ground-breaking work of Miyasaka, Kanatzidis, Snaith, and others, the research field of lead (Pb) perovskite-based solar cells has exploded. The solar power conversion efficiency of solution-processed cells based on lead perovskites are approaching that of conventional single-crystalline silicon cells. There are concerns about the use of lead in these cells. Research into alternatives, most notably those based on tin (Sn) perovskites, shows significant promise. So this VSI highlights the role of these metals in ground-breaking research that may ultimately lead to highly efficient and inexpensive energy sources.

Lithium-ion batteries are also very well represented in this VSI. This area has been brought to attention through the 2019 Nobel Prize to Goodenough, Whittingham, and Yoshino which was highlighted in a recent VSI in ACS Energy Letters. Obviously, lithium (Li) is key to their operation, but the important role of carbon (C) as the anode material/conductor and of various transition metals such as cobalt (Co), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), Nickel (Ni), oxygen (O) and main group elements such as phosphorus (P), sulfur (S) cannot be understated. There are various articles in this IYPT VSI that highlight Li-ion battery research, including Ma et al. and Assat et al.

Turning to electrocatalysis, materials science is related to several energy applications, e.g., hydrogen and oxygen evolution (HER and OER) reactions, that are important in water splitting and fuel cells. This VSI highlights the role that the first-row transition metals, in particular, cobalt (Fe), nickel (Ni), and to a lesser extent iron (Fe), are playing in research directed at replacing the tradition precious metal catalysts based on platinum (Pt) and palladium (Pd).

Biomaterials research comes back to carbon (C) playing a central role. Many (most) materials used in diagnostics, therapy, and theranostics involve polymers, materials, nanomaterials, or molecules that are composed mainly of organic carbon frameworks. Of course, other elements are important, including nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), sulfur (S), and the halogens (F, Cl, Br, I). Hard material replacements sometimes rely on metals, most notably titanium (Ti).

Organic and flexible electronics are another active area of materials research during the past several decades. While the role of carbon (C) cannot be understated here, other elements are important in conjugated active materials, including hydrogen (H) nitrogen (N), sulfur (S), oxygen (O), and selenium (Se). Light-emitting devices and materials rely on metals, including lanthanides such as europium (Eu) and terbium (Tb), and transition metals such as iridium (Ir) and platinum (Pt). Meanwhile, luminescent semiconductor nanomaterials involve cadmium (Cd), sulfur (S) and selenium (Se). Also of central importance is indium (In), perhaps an under-appreciated element that is essential to the operation of many advanced electronic devices.

Finally, any essay on recent topical advances in materials science and chemistry would be incomplete if it did not mention metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which have several applications, most notably gas storage and separation. MOFs consist of linkers that are comprised mainly of organic carbon (C), with contributions from other first row elements, such as oxygen (O), nitrogen (N), and hydrogen (H). But also key to MOF structure are the metal nodes; here many metals have been involved, but the ones that come to mind immediately are zirconium (Zr), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn) and copper (Cu).

Please enjoy these articles exploring the importance of a wide variety of elements in the field of Materials Science & Engineering.

Hydrogen (H)

Promotion of Electrocatalytic Hydrogen Evolution Reaction on Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Nanosheets with Secondary Heteroatoms
ACS Nano 2017, 11, 7, 7293-7300
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03290

Helium (He)

Gas Sorption, Diffusion, and Permeation in Nafion
Macromolecules 2016, 49, 1, 280-286
DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.5b02578

Lithium (Li)

Decoupling Cationic–Anionic Redox Processes in a Model Li-Rich Cathode via Operando X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy
Chem. Mater. 2017, 29, 22, 9714-9724
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b03434

Carbon (C)

Favorable Core/Shell Interface within Co2P/Pt Nanorods for Oxygen Reduction Electrocatalysis
Nano Lett. 2018, 18, 12, 7870-7875
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b03666

Nitrogen (N)

Urchin-like MoP Nanocrystals Embedded in N-Doped Carbon as High Rate Lithium Ion Battery Anode
ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2018, 1, 12, 7140-7145
DOI: 10.1021/acsaem.8b01580

Oxygen (O)

High Performance Fluorescent Turn-On Probe for Amitriptyline Based on Hybrid Nanoassembly of Organic-Inorganic Nanoparticles
ACS Appl. Bio Mater. 2019, 2, 1, 135-143
DOI: 10.1021/acsabm.8b00482

Magnesium (Mg)

A Comparative Study of Phosphatidylcholine versus Phosphatidylserine-Based Solid Supported Membranes for the Preparation of Liposome-Rich Interfaces
Langmuir 2018, 34, 40, 12183-12190
DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b02397

Aluminum (Al)

Atomic Layer Deposition of Aluminum Metal Films Using a Thermally Stable Aluminum Hydride Reducing Agent
Chem. Mater. 2018, 30, 6, 1844-1848
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.8b00445

Tunicate-Inspired Gallol Polymers for Underwater Adhesive: A Comparative Study of Catechol and Gallol
Biomacromolecules 2017, 18, 9, 2959-2966
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.7b00921

Silicon (Si)

Helical Hole State in Multiple Conduction Modes in Ge/Si Core/Shell Nanowire
Nano Lett. 2018, 18, 10, 6144-6149
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b01799

Phosphorus (P)

Red Phosphorus Nanodots on Reduced Graphene Oxide as a Flexible and Ultra-Fast Anode for Sodium-Ion Batteries
ACS Nano 2017, 11, 6, 5530-5537
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b00557

Sulfur (S)

Catalytic Activity of Co–X (X = S, P, O) and Its Dependency on Nanostructure/Chemical Composition in Lithium-Sulfur Batteries
ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2018, 1, 12, 7014-7021
DOI: 10.1021/acsaem.8b01434

Argon (Ar)

Adsorption and Diffusion of Fluids in Defective Carbon Nanotubes: Insights from Molecular Simulations
Langmuir 2017, 33, 42, 11834-11844
DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.7b02841

Calcium (Ca)

Preparation of Icariin and Deferoxamine Functionalized Poly(l-lactide)/chitosan Micro/Nanofibrous Membranes with Synergistic Enhanced Osteogenesis and Angiogenesis
ACS Appl. Bio Mater. 2018, 1, 2, 389-402
DOI: 10.1021/acsabm.8b00129

Titanium (Ti)

Development of a High-Performance Mediatorless Microbial Fuel Cell Comprising a Catalytic Steel Anode
ACS Appl. Bio Mater. 2018, 1, 4, 1124-1133
DOI: 10.1021/acsabm.8b00337

Chromium (Cr)

Controlled Wrinkling of Gradient Metal Films
Langmuir 2018, 34, 47, 14249-14253
DOI: 10.1021/acs.langmuir.8b03123

Iron (Fe)

Manipulation of Charge Transfer in FeP@Fe2O3 Core-Shell Photoanode by Directed Built-In Electric Field
ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2018, 1, 9, 4591-4598
DOI: 10.1021/acsaem.8b00756

Cobalt (Co)

Bioinspired Citrate–Apatite Nanocrystals Doped with Divalent Transition Metal Ions
Cryst. Growth Des. 2016, 16, 1, 145-153
DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.5b01045

Nickel (Ni)

Electrochemical Corrosion Engineering for Ni–Fe Oxides with Superior Activity toward Water Oxidation
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 49, 42217-42224
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b13267

Copper (Cu)

Rapid Identification of the Layer Number of Large-Area Graphene on Copper
Chem. Mater. 2018, 30, 6, 2067-2073
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.7b05377

Zinc (Zn)

Adverse Interactions of Luminescent Semiconductor Quantum Dots with Liposomes and Shewanella oneidensis
ACS Appl. Nano Mater. 2018, 1, 9, 4788-4800
DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.8b01000

Gallium (Ga)

Development and Characterization of Gallium-Doped Bioactive Glasses for Potential Bone Cancer Applications
ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2017, 3, 12, 3425-3432
DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00283

Germanium (Ge)

Efficient Third Harmonic Generation and Nonlinear Subwavelength Imaging at a Higher-Order Anapole Mode in a Single Germanium Nanodisk
ACS Nano 2017, 11, 1, 953-960
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b07568

Selenium (Se)

Dynamic Chemistry of Selenium: Se–N and Se–Se Dynamic Covalent Bonds in Polymeric Systems
ACS Macro Lett. 2016, 5, 1, 78-82
DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.5b00849

Bromine (Br)

Polymeric Nanomaterials Based on the Buckybowl Motif: Synthesis through Ring-Opening Metathesis Polymerization and Energy Storage Applications
ACS Macro Lett. 2017, 6, 11, 1212-1216
DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.7b00746

Strontium (Sr)

Intrinsic Antibacterial Borosilicate Glasses for Bone Tissue Engineering Applications
ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2016, 2, 7, 1143-1150
DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.6b00162

Palladium (Pd)

Carbon-Encapsulated Metal/Metal Carbide/Metal Oxide Core-Shell Nanostructures Generated by Laser Ablation of Metals in Organic Solvents
ACS Appl. Nano Mater. 2019, 2, 1, 28-39
DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.8b01541

Aliphatic Polyester Block Polymer Design
Macromolecules 2016, 49, 7, 2419-2428
DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.6b00211

Silver (Ag)

Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Coating Ag NPs Embedded Filter Paper with Chitosan for Better and Durable Point-of-Use Water Disinfection
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 44, 38239-38245
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b13985

Tin (Sn)

Sn Nanoparticles Confined in Porous Silica Spheres for Enhanced Thermal Cyclic Stability
ACS Appl. Nano Mater. 2018, 1, 8, 4073-4082
DOI: 10.1021/acsanm.8b00698

Tellurium (Te)

P–N Junctions in Ultrathin Topological Insulator Sb2Te3/Bi2Te3 Heterostructures Grown by Molecular Beam Epitaxy
Cryst. Growth Des. 2016, 16, 4, 2057-2061
DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.5b01717

Iodine (I)

Iodine Controlled Pillar[5]arene-Based Multiresponsive Supramolecular Polymer for Fluorescence Detection of Cyanide, Mercury, and Cysteine
Macromolecules 2017, 50, 20, 7863-7871
DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.7b01835

Caesium (Cs)

Metal Ion Mediated Cellulose Nanofibrils Transient Network in Covalently Cross-linked Hydrogels: Mechanistic Insight into Morphology and Dynamics
Biomacromolecules 2017, 18, 3, 1019-1028
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b01915

Europium (Eu)

Highly Efficient White-Light Emission and UV–Visible/NIR Luminescence Sensing of Lanthanide Metal–Organic Frameworks
Cryst. Growth Des. 2017, 17, 4, 2178-2185
DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.7b00112

Gadolinium (Gd)

Functional Hyperbranched Polylysine as Potential Contrast Agent Probes for Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Biomacromolecules 2016, 17, 6, 2302-2308
DOI: 10.1021/acs.biomac.6b00605

Erbium (Er)

Size and Shell Effects on the Photoacoustic and Luminescence Properties of Dual Modal Rare-Earth-Doped Nanoparticles for Infrared Photoacoustic Imaging
ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2016, 2, 5, 809-817
DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.6b00012

Thulium (Tm)

Multimodal Nanoprobe Based on Upconversion Nanoparticles for Monitoring Implanted Stem Cells in Bone Defect of Big Animal
ACS Biomater. Sci. Eng. 2018, 4, 2, 626-634
DOI: 10.1021/acsbiomaterials.7b00763

Ytterbium (Yb)

Alignment of Nanoplates in Lamellar Diblock Copolymer Domains and the Effect of Particle Volume Fraction on Phase Behavior
ACS Macro Lett. 2018, 7, 12, 1400-1407
DOI: 10.1021/acsmacrolett.8b00665

Platinum (Pt)

Pt–C Interfaces Based on Electronegativity-Functionalized Hollow Carbon Spheres for Highly Efficient Hydrogen Evolution
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 50, 43561-43569
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b10845

Gold (Au)

Programmable Metal/Semiconductor Nanostructures for mRNA-Modulated Molecular Delivery
Nano Lett. 2018, 18, 10, 6222-6228
DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.8b02263

More Virtual Issues and Interviews with ACS Editors exploring the periodic table are available on ACS Axial.

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